Monday, October 29, 2018

Our Not So Hallowed Halloween

Pumpkins and pirates. Costumes and candy. Cartoon characters and trick-or-treaters. These comprise some of the fun, harmless elements of the annual observance we call Halloween. What’s not to like about little girls being able to dress up to look like Elsa of “Frozen” or Ariel the Little Mermaid, or little boys trying to emulate favorite superheroes or a Minion?

Unfortunately, Halloween often conjures up darker elements as well: Witches, zombies, vampires, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers types, myriad manifestations of the occult. So when “H” day arrives we have two very different presentations. How to respond? Do we ignore the negatives and focus on the positives? Do we avoid such activities altogether? Or do we choose somewhere in between?

It comes down to a matter of personal conviction, but the former scenario doesn’t seem much different from adult costume parties or masquerades. People of all ages enjoy donning silly attire and wearing masks. And the “loot” collected gives kids and grownups alike a chance to satisfy sweet-tooth cravings.

My only reservation about Halloween is the focus on death and evil, which seems to have intensified with the passage of years. I still remember years ago when I asked the pastor of the church we were attending about my hobby at the time, which was reading horror novels. Rather than lecturing me about how wrong it was to do that, he just offered an insightful question: “When you read those books, are they drawing you toward God – or are they directing you away from Him?”

I immediately got his point and chose to stop reading such fiction. There’s already enough in the world around us that seeks to seduce us away from godly thinking and reverence for the Lord. I didn’t need to subject myself to other influences that could do much the same.

While the Bible says nothing specifically about Halloween in any of its forms, it does give guidelines to help us determine how we should observe it, if at all. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 we’re instructed to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” Whether choosing a costume that represents the Hollywood ghoul du jour is evil or not can be a subjective judgment. But Philippians 4:8 takes another approach, a perspective that encourages us to intentionally accentuate the positive:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

If our approach to Halloween – or any holiday or celebration for that matter – meets that criteria, we can proceed in good conscience. Because we’ll fulfilling the biblical admonitions to “set your minds on things above” (Colossians 3:2) and to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

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